Vista Vs. Gutsy Gibbon

An interesting story ran last week, with one of the best analogies I've heard yet regarding Linux (Ubuntu) vs. Vista. Slashdot gave the account of one Rupert Goodwins writing in ZDNet UK. Goodwins has 7 computers running various versions of Windows and Linux, and explains why he chooses to do most of his work on the Gibbon.
So here's the funny thing. I've used Windows since 1.0. I've lived through the bad times of Windows/386 and ME, and the good times of NT 3.51 and 2K. I know XP if not backwards, then with a degree of familiarity that only middle-aged co-dependents can afford each other... Then how come I'm so much more at home with Ubuntu than Vista? It boils down to one abiding impression: Ubuntu goes out of its way to get out of your way... Vista goes out of its way to be Vista and enforce the Vista way.

The Orange Box Review

"PC Gaming is dying," the analysts tell us. "The Massive genre is the only viable business model left," websites report. That they're off the mark is obvious to anyone that's actually played a PC game in the last few years; games like Sam and Max, Battlefield 2, or any of the numerous puzzle titles available online prove the flexibility and strength of the PC platform. Then, every once in a while, you get an offering like the Orange Box. A value-packed storm of content from Valve, this single sku offers five complete games at an amazing price. That would be great, even if the games weren't any good ... but they are. They're very, very, very good. Read on for Slashdot's impressions of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and (the cake is a lie) Portal.

Driver Update Can Cause Vista Deactivation

More fun times with Vista, as reported by Slashdot last week:
After weeks of grueling troubleshooting, I've finally had it confirmed by Microsoft Australia and USA — something as small as swapping the video card or updating a device driver can trigger a total Vista deactivation. Put simply, your copy of Windows will stop working with very little notice (three days) and your PC will go into "reduced functionality" mode, where you can't do anything but use the web browser for half an hour.

The Development of Ecologically Sound Jet Fuel

Researchers at Princeton University are currently working on two projects to reduce jet travel's role in global warming. The first one, a major project funded by the U.S. Air Force with $7.5 million, is focused on developing computational models that accurately simulate the burning of jet fuel, a complex process not well understood today. The second one, funded by NetJets, a company providing business jets, will help to develop new jet fuels with near-zero net greenhouse gas emissions.


12 Reasons

Just a quickie before I run to catch my train, I couldn't resist. i keep seeing Diggs for "10 reasons why same sex marriages will ruin America" and other such rubbish. The I came across this, nicely done tongue in cheek.
1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control are not natural.
2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people cannot get legally married because the world needs more children.
3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children because straight parents only raise straight children.
4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful, since Britney Spears's 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.
5. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and it hasn't changed at all: women are property, Blacks can't marry Whites, and divorce is illegal.
6. Gay marriage should be decided by the people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of minorities.
7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are always imposed on the entire country. That's why we only have one religion in America.
8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people makes you tall.
9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage license.
10. Children can never succeed without both male and female role models at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children.
11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven't adapted to cars or longer lifespans.
12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a "separate but equal" institution is always constitutional. Separate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as separate marriages will for gays & lesbians.


Gmail gets IMAP!

This is a really cool feature I've been waiting for - though it looks like I may have to wait just a day or so more for it... Gmail has quietly started rolling out IMAP access to your email. Why is this such a cool thing? Well, as the downloadsquad explains:
Why is IMAP integration a good thing for Gmail? POP was a stepping stone, but IMAP pushes Gmails benefits over the top. With IMAP, users can now access their email via a desktop application like Outlook or Thunderbird, read emails, make changes, delete, and have the changes made across platforms. So if you now log into your Gmail account, the message which you read in Thunderbird, will now be marked accordingly. No more wasting time trying to sift through emails that had already been answered.
Oh yeah. I'm psyched.

If IMAP settings don't show up yet in your 'Forwarding and POP IMAP' tab log back out and check again. If still no joy just give it time; Google will be rolling it out to everyone over the next few days.

EDIT: It's up on their official blog now too...

EDIT #2: Turn Thunderbird into the Ultimate Gmail IMAP Client. Sweet. But I'm still waiting for my IMAP... ahem... (tap tap tap)



Stumbled across a new cool blog. EcoGeek - the name says it all for this tech oriented blog. EcoGeek specializes in writing about environmentally friendly technology. If you’re looking for info on anything from solar iPods to electric cars, this is the place.


Gutsy Gibbon is out!

I know, it's an odd name for a Linux release. But today, Thursday October 18, Ubuntu 7.10 (codenamed "Gutsy Gibbon") has been released. Already a nice review up on Wired (Ubuntu's New 'Gutsy Gibbon' Brings Linux Out of the Jungle). So go grab it already, or if you have a slow connection, order a DVD or two for free!


Caught In The Act

Last one. I promise. Definitely worth a read for the Dads out there. I can't count the number of times I've been right in his shoes. From the blog Dad Gone Mad (I have GOT to read more of his posts, what a name for a blog):
Here’s how you know when you’re completely hosed:

When you arrive home after an especially disgusting day at the office, two whiny, clingy, catastrophically tired children greet you at the door. They grab hold and hang on you like a wet towel on a hook. When you finally unlatch their superheroic kung-fu grasps from your legs, you walk over to kiss your wife. As soon as your lips separate from hers, she says, “Don’t forget I’m going out tonight, honey. You’ll have the kids to yourself.”

See? Hosed.

A smart man would have run for his life. A man with even a shred of inclination toward self-preservation would have negotiated some sort of mutual understanding with his wife – an agreement that a personally offensive requirement such as this would need to be properly “appreciated” upon her return. But I am neither smart nor a particularly strong negotiator. I silently acquiesced because for some stupid reason I still feel an obligation to be a father – even in times when all I want is a beer and the remote control – because I just can’t get past the fact that I love those kids with the white hot fury of 7,000 suns. And lemme tell you, it’s a real inconvenience sometimes.

She left. She got into her minivan and drove away, abandoning me there with Marty McWhineypants and his lovely assistant, Sally Snottybottom. They kvetched all night. Daddyiwantsomegrapes. Daddycanyoureadthistome. Daddycanwehavedessert. Daddydaddydaddy. And when I sat on the floor and played Legos with them, it was never enough. The airplane wasn’t big enough. The monkey’s leg fell off. The house had no windows. “Fix it, daddy!”

By bathtime I was cooked. I hadn’t eaten dinner, hadn’t checked my email, hadn’t done a thing for myself. And still: the whining. The first three times I asked them to get undressed the response was this:


The fourth time was different. I didn’t ask.


My tone was sufficiently assholish to motivate action. Forty-five seconds later they were butt-naked, freshly pee-peed and standing under a running shower.

I left them there for a moment. I needed 30 seconds of peace – enough time to throw together a PB&J and fire up the computer. I began to wonder to myself how stay-at-home parents endure this all day. How do they stay sane? How do they—

Hold it.

It’s too quiet.

It shouldn’t be this quiet. This can’t be good.

I set down my sandwich and stormed back to the bathroom, all the while girding myself for the carnage I knew I’d see when I got there. “If they’re drawing on the shower door with my shaving cream again, they can forget about ever seeing the sun again.”

When I got to the bathroom, I looked inside and saw something that rocked me to my core.

He was washing her hair.

I stopped, backed up a step and watched in silence. They didn’t know I was there.

He spoke softly to her. He told her it was time to rinse (a step he knows she hates) and instructed her to turn her back to the water. He helped her bend her head back to let the water cascade down the back of her head. He positioned his right hand on her back for support and his left hand vertically at her hairline to prevent the spray from going into her eyes.

I felt a tear run down my right cheek. My chest wanted to explode. How do they do this? How do they become so special? And how do I forget that they have this incredible capacity to love each other?

Fatherhood plays tricks on you. It sets you up to pound your chest and raise your voice and demand compliance from your children. You learn to presume guilt. And then, without warning, it pulls the rug out from under your anger, leaving you out of breath in a blubbering state of gratitude.

I love that about it.

Ann Coultier gets Hacked

I know, I know I said I would stop today. But it's actually a pretty slow day for a change. Granted, there's lots I could be doing, but without anyone breathing down my neck at the moment to put out yet another fire, it's nice to relax just a teeny bit for a change.

So anyways. This is pretty funny. I've never been a fan of Ann Coultier (bigoted-nazi-woman) but it would seem she's been living a lie... or so it says on her site. I'll post it in its entirety here as it may not stay up too long... and make sure you read to the very end...
An Open Letter to Readers
by Ann Coulter
October 15, 2007

Dear Readers,

I've been participating in a charade for nearly eleven years, now. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it. You have all been a part of a sick joke that I began considering shortly after first getting on the air. At first, it was quite interesting to see how people would react when I would use twisted logic and poorly masked bigotry.

But eleven years is a long time to be living a fake life, and I can no longer tolerate this falsity. Even someone as fake as I tires out eventually.

Here's the truth, I don't care what people believe. Jews don't need to be "made perfect" as I so arrogantly proclaimed to Editor & Publisher not a half week ago. I don't even care if people are Muslim. Granted, I don't know much about the religion or the people, but they are people. This is something that we cannot forget, they are in an abhorrent situation. These people are in need of education. Perhaps if we did not participate in causing them misery, they would not hate us so.

In fact, does it really matter whether we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, or even Pagan? We are one nation. One. We should not let petty differences separate us, we are all American, and should act in that manner.

And with that, my precious viewers, I bid you adieu. My career as a media figurehead is over.


Ann Coulter

P.S. - Oh, and Bill O'Reilly is also just acting.

Haha, did it again. Oh, those silly web admins...they just embarrass themselves.

(Admins, check for an e-mail address in the CMS. Find it. I know you will.)

Not that's some creative (and surprisingly literate!) hacking. Bravo.

Anatomy of a Black Hole

OK, I was going to stop blogging for the day. But this is just too cool to not pass along.

This is an interactive demo on the anatomy of a black hole. It's not just highly instructive and informative, but just hand-down awesome. Go check it out.

Blog Action Day: Help the Environment

So I'm a little late to the party on this one. Blog Action Day was yesterday, October 15th, where bloggers of the world united to discuss the environment and how we could better it. My new favorite social site, zen habits, had a really good (if verbosely titled) article up, 5 Ways Save the World, While Getting Fitter, Saving Money, Simplifying, and Becoming Happier that's worth a read. Some of these things I do; while I can't exactly bike or walk to work, much less anywhere close by (though that will change with the new shopping centers opening up on my corner, sigh) I do drive my lovely Prius which helps both emissions and sound pollution. Not to mention the 50mpg is nice with today's gas prices. But we do recycle, in a county which seems fairly recycling-unfriendly (at least they do staff a center for us to drop off to, but we got spoiled in Frederick with curbside pickups). We're trying to take more nightly walks - when we're home together at night. And we're certainly using more and more florescent lightbulbs wherever we can.

The blogger dashboard had a post, Environmental Blog Roundup with some more sites to peruse. Lots are solely environmental blogs - I think that's awesome. The more activism we can have, the better.

I'm gonna go check out The Lazy Environmentalist - Sustainable living made easy. Sounds right up my alley.

Quake Wars Linux Demo Released

Well, id went and made lots of Linux users very happy campers. A demo for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars has been released for Linux, it contains the same single mission as the Windows demo did. It played very well on my gaming rig at home; I wonder how it would look on my workstation at the office? Hmm...

A Look at Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" RC1

Screenshot tour from lifehacker:
Experienced Ubuntu users know what to expect from this Thursday's release of Gutsy Gibbon, the love-it-or-hate-it code name for version 7.10 of the popular Linux distribution. It's not a major "Long Term Support" release, it's not a radical re-thinking of the system, but it is another step toward a Linux system that "just works."

Still, there's a lot that's new (or at least now included by default) and very cool here—native support for dual-monitor setups, integrated Firefox tweaks and extensions, instant printer configuration and, of course, more of the Compiz eye candy that's helping Ubuntu look less like the dowdy younger brother of Windows and Mac. I downloaded, burned and installed the Gutsy release candidate over the weekend and took a few pictures along the way.

CD orders are also available - it's nice how you can request free Ubuntu install discs (even if they take a few weeks to arrive)!


Pic of the Week 20071012

15 Free CD/DVD burning alternatives to Nero

From another blogger, "instant fundas" (looks like a fun blog, I'll have to peruse it some more):
When it comes to CD or DVD burning, the software most people tend to use is Nero. But Nero isn't the be all and end all of CD burning solutions. There are other softwares as well that perform much better than Nero in terms of resource usage and speed. Here is a list of 15 free burning softwares that you can use in place of Nero.



I've become a huge fan of the site zen habits. The daily articles there are tremendously uplifting, and I keep getting these awesome ideas, and even enacting on a few. Like clearing off my desk, both at work and at my workstation in the study. God, what a good feeling just to not have a cluttered desk. And just taking it a little at a time, like clearing off my endtable. The minimalist ideal is slowly taking hold - I just don't need so much junk. Now to convince the rest of my family (who are as much packrats as myself)...

Anyways, one of the recent posts at zen habits is "Ask the readers: Best tips for decluttering?" which has a long list of excellent tips. I pounced on the email inbox tips I found amongst them. It would take awhile to go through them all, but infinitely worth it. I have so much purging to do...


New Look!

So, whattya think? Little more techie, little more sophisticated? I was reading an article on "41 Reasons Why Your Blog Probably Sucks" (yeah, I know it does) and that got me looking around for a new template. I like this one.

Breaking News: Battlefield 3 Leaked Info

It's not often I blog on the cutting edge of breaking news. Wow, I feel so trendy. Anyways, breaking news over at Digitsl Battle on some leaked Battlefield 3 info:
A tipster sent us PDF document which looked like an outline of features for Battlefield 3. The three page document is apparently prepared for investors which should get it by December of this year. It details basic features of BF3, and are as listed...

Follow the link to read more. I'm gonna be really, really pissed if this turns out to be Vista-only... grr...


School Humor

This is hilarious - no wonder some people were offended! This is the message that the Pacific Palisades High School California staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine. This is the actual answering machine message for the school. This came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework. The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's failing grades changed to passing grades - even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

The outgoing message:
Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work -Press 2
To complain about what we do - Press 3
To swear at staff members - Press 4
To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5
If you want us to raise your child - Press 6
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7
To request another teacher, for the third time this year -Press 8
To complain about bus transportation - Press 9
To complain about school lunches - Press 0
If you realize this is the real world and your child must be Accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!
If you want this in Spanish, move to a country that speaks it.



Word Riddle

Okay you brainiacs, here's a brain teaser for you.

What nine letter word in the English language is still a word when each of the nine letters is removed one by one?

Answer: Startling.

Wanna see how it's done?

Microsoft Should Abandon Vista?

An editorial written by Don Reisinger over at CNet's News.com takes Microsoft to task for the outright failure of Vista. He suggests that Vista may be the downfall of the company as, despite years in development, Vista was delivered to market too early. His suggestion? Support those who are running it, but otherwise ditch Vista and move on.
'Never before have I seen such an abysmal start to an operating system release. For almost a year, people have been adopting Vista and becoming incensed by how poorly it operates. Not only does it cost too much, it requires more to run than XP, there is still poor driver support ... With Mac OS X hot on its tail, Vista is simply not capable of competing at an OS level with some of the best software around. If Microsoft continues down this path, it will be Vista that will bring the software giant to its knees--not Bill Gates' departure.'

My wife's new Dell laptop came with Vista. I helped her get some of it set up, but the basics of navigating around ("Where'd Windows Explorer go?") has proved increasingly frustrating to her. Not to mention the damnable prompts every time you try to run something ("Are you sure you want to run this?"). I'm about ready to wipe it and start over with my copy of WinXP Pro. At least her old laptop, now mine, I can install Ubuntu on and have a decent experience.

In related news, Microsoft has decided to extend XP's life by 6 months.
Despite Microsoft releasing Windows Vista more than nine months ago the adoption rate has not been as Microsoft hoped. Bowing further to pressure from OEMs and consumers, Microsoft has extended the life of Windows XP, which was due to end sale by OEMs on January 1 next year, to a new date of June 30. Asked if this was an indication of a strong demand for XP, a Microsoft representative sought to downplay the extension, stating 'We wouldn't term it strong, we would describe this as accommodating a certain element who needs more time.'

Pah, yeah right.

Through the Ages with Billy Joel

Someone by the name of Ye Li took the Billy Joel song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" and managed to scour the internet to attach images to each part of the song. Give it a watch, it's really cool. And not to mention helpful - I could never figure out what many of the lines meant...

MMO Bans Men Playing As Women

I'm just catching up on all the Slashdot articles and other sundry items that pass thru my inbox. Been awhile, and what better day than Columbus day to do so. (FYI, although I do have to work today, the government agency we contract for is off.)
In a bizarre move Aurora Technology the owners of the King of the World MMORPG has taken the unusual step of banning men who play women characters but the ban itself does not stretch to women playing men. If you want to play as a woman now in game you have to prove you are a women via web cam. This is something that people ask for in many mmorpgs I myself have seen people say people who play women in EVE online as being some kind of degenerate but how long can a policy of verification by web cam last since its so easy to get around it doesn't seem to solve much and is an insult to many.

Personally I find this ridiculous. Yes, I play both female and male characters in MMOs and RPGs. So what? My daughters think it's great I do so, on the occasion that they sit in may lap or watch over my shoulder. They think it's cool to see a heroine kicking butt. I'm secure enough in my masculinity to play a female character online, and I have no problem in chat informing that I'm male. I don't play to flirt or anything, so what's degenerate about it? Sounds like those who complain so much have some other problems that need addressing. In other words, methinks they doth protest too much.

Annual IT Salary Survey Finds Dissatisfaction

Another Slashdot article from awhile back:
A storm seems to be brewing in the IT job market. Pay raises have continued to outpace inflation, and bonuses are downright impressive - 11.6% on average. Yet, as the 2007 Network World Salary Survey finds, dissatisfaction over salary packages is rampant.

Ha, I wouldn't know about impressive bonuses or raises - mine was a big fat zero this year.

PC Makers Offering a Bridge Back To XP

Slashdot article on how the Telegraph is reporting on efforts by PC manufacturers to give customers buying systems pre-installed with Windows Vista a much-sought way to downgrade to Windows XP. ( A few months back Slashdot discussed Microsoft's similar concession for corporate customers.)
"It took took five years and $6 billion to develop, but Microsoft's Vista operating system, which was launched early this year, has been shunned by consumers — with computer manufacturers taking the bizarre step of offering downgrades to the old XP version of Windows."

The Perfect Desktop

This article is based on OpenSUSE 10.3 (GNOME) but could easily be adapted to other distributions.
This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 10.3 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.
Not anything new or novel really, but it's a nice layout to get the minimum you'd need to painlessly switch from using Windows to using Linux for your main productivity needs. Read on for more.

EDIT: I just noticed a list of similar articles that walk you through the same process, for Fedora 7, PCLinuxOS 2007, Mandriva 2007 Spring Free (Mandriva 2007.1), Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn (my distro of choice nowadays) and Debian Etch (Debian 4.0).

Sweet Weekend

So this past weekend was the Cake Competition down at Virginia Beach, VA. And everybody came home with a ribbon: Donna got 3rd place on both of her designs, and tied for 2nd in taste with her awesome carrot cake; Katie got Honorable Mention with her design, and Carrie got 3rd with hers. So, congrats all around to my girls. I'll try to grab a pic or two from the digital camera when I'm home.

And so we had a mini-vacation at the beach. It was nice to be back - and to enjoy the boardwalk. Finally got to rent one of those family bikes, very cool.

I miss the smell of the ocean.